The chronicle of my A-2s

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by bentusian, Dec 25, 2010.

  1. bentusian

    bentusian One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    257
    Location:
    NYC
    Here are some picture references for the past and present of my A-2s so far. Some have been sold off or given away, so as to 'upgrade' or because of the sizing problem.

    My very first A-2 was, as many other loungers would share, a US Authentic repro in seal brown goatskin.
    [​IMG]
    I really liked this jacket back then - very comfy and easy to throw on - until I realized that the sizing, especially the sleeve length, was not quite right for me.. So this one was sold off to another newbie. :)

    Second A-2 was a Steve McColghan repro in russet HH.
    [​IMG]
    I have little info about the maker, but I heard he used to supply WW2 repro clothings for either Saving Private Ryan or BOB. Not quite sure still. Contruction was fair, but not my size again. Sold off.

    My third A-2, or a transitional/experimental one was made by a local leathershop in South Korea, which sells cutomized flight jackets to USAF officers stationed in Korea.
    [​IMG]
    This one was made of deerskin so it was very supple and comfortable. It had some modifications like a snap button at the bottom of the storm flap and an inside pocket. The most interesting part of the jacket probably was the 'hand painted' AAF logo on the left sleeve, which very much added to the whole localization atmosphere. As it was customized for an Asian fit, sizing was no problem at all. This one was given away to my brother-in-law, as I needed an ally to justify my A-2 mania. :D

    More to follow -
     
  2. bentusian

    bentusian One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    257
    Location:
    NYC
    My fourth A-2 was the very first 'high-end' A-2 for me, made by The Few Mfg (a Japanese brand headquartered in NZ) - Rough Wear AC 16159 repro.
    (From this point on all my A-2s were in HH)
    [​IMG]
    It was quite a quantum leap for me in every respect including price and quality of the jacket. So back then I even believed this was it - the end of my A-2 quest! .. but far from it as you all will find out. :)

    As one of the fellow Loungers aptly stated, your first A-2 is always too big, and the next one always too small - which was exactly the case for me. First I thought the jacket gave me what Japanese would call it 'Just Fit'. But as I investigate and research more and deeper, I came to have this growing doubt somewhere in the back of my head that this might not be the right size for me, and that I should be craving for a better fit. The biggest problem was 'tunneling' of the sleeves which I couldn't stand.

    So after a long contemplation I decided to sell it off. Fortunately another gentleman was looking for this jacket like crazy, so I was lucky to hand it over to him with little financial damage. I even stenciled my name and service number (which I received during my service in the Korean Army) in a WW2 fashion, because I believed I would spend the rest of my life with it. Thank god the buyer didn't even care about it.

    My fifth A-2 was purchased quite simultaneously as the abovementioned fourth one. This one was also made by The Few, but a special order item for one of their retaliers in Japan. So it was basically an original pattern.
    [​IMG]
    According to the shop the jacket was patterned specifically for Japanese fit, so I believed it could also apply to other East Asians like myself. The advertisement was very much true, as it generally fit me far better than the RW 16159. But I should have gone one size down on this one as well. The cut and leather quality were all nice and superb, but I had to reluctantly sell it off because it was such a lot of money just to keep as your collection, among other things. The same guy who took the RW 16159 from me took this one as well, becuase this very jacket was supposed to be the second one on his wishlist. Praise the Lord, I was fortunate again. :)

    More to follow -
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2010
  3. OneEyeMan

    OneEyeMan Practically Family

    Messages:
    508
    Location:
    United States
    Nice chronology so far.
    BTW, what is "sleeve tunneling"?
     
  4. bentusian

    bentusian One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    257
    Location:
    NYC
    In the meantime a beautiful 'Band of Brothers' version A-2 popped up on the classifieds section of a local 'flight jacket forum', which became my sixth A-2:
    [​IMG]
    This jacket was posted somewhere here before, so I'm not going to describe in details. I still keep this one.

    Now, after all those sizing mistakes and with the money in my pocket from secondhand sales, I decided to actually visit the store and try them on before purchase. So last summer I flew to Japan (a brief flight from South Korea back then) and paid the first visit to the store I had been buying A-2s from. The owner was very much kind, but it was a little bit early for the A-2 season to start, so I couldn't buy the jacket from the shelf. Nevertheless after several trials and with helpful advice from the shop owner I decided to pre-order two A-2 models that would become available in Autumn - my seventh and eighth A-2s.

    Seventh one was the shop's own special order item like the fifth one up there, an original pattern for the year 2010.
    [​IMG]
    This time I decided to go one size down and it worked. :) This jacket has some reddish waist and wristband somewhere between red and brown. I still keep this one.

    And the eighth one was, again, the shop's special order pattern for the year 2007.
    [​IMG]
    With this one I chose one size bigger than the 2010 one because this 2007 version was cut short hence fitting my chubby torso very comfortably with room to layer a sweatshirt underneath. This particular jacket had been displayed at the shop since 2007, so it developed quite substantial 'accordion like' wrinkles on the sleeves and I didn't mind it. The colour was quite different from my previous choices, being in 'Mid-brown' according to the owner's description. I guess it's close to the 'havana brown' from ELC. I also keep this one.

    Believe it or not, two more to follow - ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2010
  5. bentusian

    bentusian One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    257
    Location:
    NYC
    [BTW, what is "sleeve tunneling"? ] by OneEyeMan

    I learned that terminology from here, which describes a situation where the wrist bands become hidden under/devoured by the leather part of your sleeves.
    Picture N-3B parka or N-1 deck jacket. :)
     
  6. zwelgbast

    zwelgbast New in Town

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Well, Bethusian,

    that's quite a trail of A-2's you have there.

    I'm sure curious of the other two which are to follow...


    Mathew
     
  7. bentusian

    bentusian One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    257
    Location:
    NYC
    My story is coming to an end.. (or is it? :D)

    My nineth A-2 was a slight deviation from the previous Japanese A-2s, an ELC Star Sportswear repro (not from the current lineup) with time-worn finish:
    [​IMG]
    This one has the thinnest leather of all the A-2s I've experienced, which makes it the most comfortable one so far. This one is also the first one without the collar stand - a very interesting feature that is new to me. I guess this will serve me as a general purpose windbreaker jacket during warmer seasons, just like its originals were supposed to be. A keeper.

    Now, the last and tenth A-2 is also the most expensive one I've ever got so far - Toy's McCoy's original "The War Lover" A-2.
    [​IMG]
    Named after Steve McQueen's WW2 movie from the 60s, this one is yet another clear example that Mr. Okamoto, the company owner and previous owner of the Real McCoy Japan, is obsessed with Steve McQueen movies and the A-2 jackets. It's patterned quite differently from most of other A-2s, relatively short and tight around the belly of the same size. Even considering that it comes out in Japanese sizes, it's still too tight. So I had to go one size up, but it still feels tighter than one size smaller ELC's A-2.

    Other than the elusive sizing issue which was quite unexpected at first, attention to details, material used and overall construction are of top-notch quality, and they simply overkill - such price and quality for what is basically a military garment should be hard to justify, I have to admit. Still, this one's to keep.

    Phew, I guess that's pretty much it for the history lecture. But there's a little behind story about finding the right size of "The War Lover", which will follow later -

    Cheers. ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2010
  8. apba1166

    apba1166 A-List Customer

    Messages:
    370
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Thank you, I enjoyed that. Better to have a couple you love than a lot of "almosts."
     
  9. bentusian

    bentusian One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    257
    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks for the kind words, and here's the story behind "The War Lover" A-2:

    TWL A-2 jacket is actually not the most expensive one I've ever got, but the "The Great Escape" A-2 by Toy's McCoy was.
    [​IMG]
    This one was in my possession only very briefly, because of the sizing problem I previously mentioned. The size I first chose was too short and too tight around the belly and I had to have it changed for lager size. But since the TGE jacket was always under high demand in Japan, a bigger size was no longer available. So I ended up with TWL, which has basically the same cut as TGE except the additional features like name tab, AAF and rank insignia decals. Believe me, it was not an easy process to get the size changed from France to Japan, and all the way back to Paris. So if you're thinking of getting a TGE A-2 from Japan, consider going one size up, or even two to get the 'western standard' fit.

    Here are some of the close-up pics of the price raising features of TGE A-2, which I took before sending it back to Japan:
    [​IMG]
    It also has CPT V. Hilts name and service number stenciled on the lining, plus a 'movie prop' tag as if it was ordered for a movie company.

    So that's really about it. Hope you enjoyed. Thanks. :D
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2010
  10. NowOrNever

    NowOrNever Familiar Face

    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    England
    Bentusian: Reading your post was fascinating, you have owned some gorgeous A-2s from some respected makers. I have only dreamed of purchasing so many. I was relieved to read that you went for an actual fitting, since the A-2 is notorious for being difficult to size perfectly. You have demonstrated great persistence!

    I think of all your photographed jackets the Eastman Star looks amazing in time worn. However that is subjective and I would have treasured most of those jackets... assuming I could get them to fit of course!
     
  11. bentusian

    bentusian One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    257
    Location:
    NYC
    Some development visible on the Toy's A-2, after a short weekend trip during which it was the only outerwear I brought.

    Before & After:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Question: the sleeves now show some noticeable creases and wrinkles, as in the pictures, but the overall sleeve length doesn't seem to shrink enough.
    So I wonder if they really do shrink with wear? Or simply I need to break it in more? I need to see the sleeves shrunk because they're a tad too long for me..
     
  12. Monsoon

    Monsoon A-List Customer

    Messages:
    350
    Location:
    Harrisburg, PA
    Damn, they all are great looking jackets. Thanks for posting these.
     
  13. CR141

    CR141 Familiar Face

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    The Dark Side Of The Moon
    Great looking collection. Thanks for posting:cool:



    Cheers
    Bob
     
  14. Fine collection with a great tale of buying and selling. They all look really nice and I like the variety of colors but the russet ones seem extra special to me. (Don't know why but it looks like such a cool color.)
     
  15. ryans

    ryans New in Town

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Tokyo
    Beautiful jacket you have there, Bentusiannim! Try soaking the jacket in water, put a long pole (like a pole from your shower curtain) through the armholes and bunch up the sleeves so that they are squeezed. Hang it indoors and let it dry naturally. Should take about three or four days. This is the method used by Indy jacket collectors over at Club Obi Wan and it works :)

    Ryan
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011
  16. gyrobroyeur

    gyrobroyeur Familiar Face

    Messages:
    75
    Location:
    France.
    Thank's for sharing. I used to own 6 A2 in the past. I keep 2 of them, and I will sell 1 of the 2 nearly. I suppose that's the way it goes. The quest for perfect A2 never end...
    Tu parles francais ?
     
  17. bentusian

    bentusian One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    257
    Location:
    NYC
    Good to see you here Ryannim, and thank god you're OK.

    Again, I wouldn't do anything so drastic as you suggested to my precious collection, however impatient I may be to get the jacket broken in.
    I would rather have it in a more natural manner, and just want to know if sleeves shrink eventually..
     
  18. bentusian

    bentusian One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    257
    Location:
    NYC
    I so agree. Mais je ne parle pas Francais bien.. pas encore.
     
  19. bentusian

    bentusian One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    257
    Location:
    NYC
    Latest addition : The Few's Type A-2 Rough Wear AC 16159 - 2011/12 Edition.

    [​IMG]

    I actually sized down on this one, which fits me much better than the previous one. I think I finally found the right sized seal brown A-2.
     
  20. Fifty150

    Fifty150 Practically Family

    Messages:
    735
    Location:
    The Barbary Coast
    Dress uniforms are tailored. Fitment is exact. But field uniforms, such as flight suits, jump suits, & BDUs are more of a one size fits all kind of thing. Usually there is more of a loose, baggy fit so that you can move in it. They fit everyone just a little different.

    Flight jackets, including A-2s, were just handed out. An issued item. I can't recall anyone, ever, going to the tailor and being measured so that the sleeves were the right length, the torso exact, et cetera. In most cases, the fit all depends upon the person wearing it. The typical area of sizing, with field uniforms, that we work around is usually the chest. Once the chest fits, and you can move your arms, then everything else is just accepted. For some guys, the neck is loose, while on others, it's snug.

    For dress uniforms, I will not tolerate anything other than an exact fit. My flight jacket is not part of the dress uniform. It's a functional item that needs to go into the field. So for guys like me with a 50" chest, wide back, and wide shoulders, we just live longer sleeves when arms are relaxed, and excess garment in the belly area. I have to consider having enough jacket sleeve to still cover my arms when they are extended. If I'm standing still with my arms to the sides, "tunneling" is okay as long as I have sleeves to my wrist when I'm reaching for my handlebars. Who wants to wear a jacket with 3/4 sleeves?

    I suspect that even during WW2, those soldiers took whatever chest size was issued, and just wore their jackets without too much thought as to sleeve "tunneling". Did they fly with their arms relaxed to their sides, so that they could strike the perfect pose in their jackets? Did they all have the same length arms? They were lucky to get issued a leather jacket, as not everybody got one.

    I just can't find myself obsessed over trying to fit a jacket in the same way as depicted in a handful of old photos. I'm more realistic. I know that my body size and shape is not the same. This is like a bunch of girls comparing themselves to lingerie models in a catalog.
     
    Flightengineer likes this.

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